stew·​ard·​ship ˈstü-ərd-ˌship How to pronounce stewardship (audio)
: the office, duties, and obligations of a steward
: the conducting, supervising, or managing of something
especially : the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one's care
stewardship of natural resources

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Good Stewardship

When stewardship first appeared in English during the Middle Ages, it functioned as a job description, denoting the office of a steward, or manager of a large household. Over the centuries, its range of reference spread to the oversight of law courts, employee unions, college dining halls, Masonic lodges, and many other organizations. In recent years, the long-established "management" sense of stewardship has evolved a positive meaning, “careful and responsible management.” This sense is commonly found nowadays in contexts such as “stewardship of the environment, the family business,” etc. It also occasionally appears as an adjective in phrases such as “stewardship fundraising" (that is, fundraising aimed at building good relationships with donors in order to keep them loyal).

Example Sentences

generally the dean left the day-to-day stewardship of the college to the assistant dean she believes that stewardship of the environment is everyone's responsibility
Recent Examples on the Web Ardern won praise for her calm stewardship of the Pacific nation through a number of major events, including the coronavirus pandemic, a volcanic eruption and the 2019 Christchurch terrorist attack. Michael E. Miller, Washington Post, 19 Jan. 2023 Such ads call for people to take action, educate and raise awareness in connection with the following categories: civic engagement, economic growth, environmental stewardship and social-equity causes. Meghan Bobrowsky, WSJ, 4 Jan. 2023 The center is committed to championing organic gardening, environmental stewardship and nutritional education. San Diego Union-Tribune, 30 Dec. 2022 The conservation easement comes with $422,000 for stewardship and ecological restoration, bringing the total past $10 million. Sam Whiting, San Francisco Chronicle, 15 Dec. 2022 Fujifilm is committed to responsible environmental stewardship and good corporate citizenship. William Earl, Variety, 28 Nov. 2022 Newsom noted that the state next year will receive seven new C-130 firefighting aircraft from the federal government as part of a 20-year memorandum of understanding for shared stewardship of California’s forest and rangelands. Hayley Smith, Los Angeles Times, 19 Nov. 2022 One candidate seemed to be right in front of him: Jeff Zucker, who had overseen the creation of Hulu while at NBCUniversal and was much admired within Warner Media for his profitable stewardship of CNN. James B. Stewart, New York Times, 19 Nov. 2022 The risks can be mitigated through careful stewardship and calm handling of crises, but it can never be fully removed, nor can it be engineered around. Kelsey D. Atherton, The Atlantic, 18 Nov. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'stewardship.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of stewardship was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near stewardship

Cite this Entry

“Stewardship.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


stew·​ard·​ship ˈst(y)ü-ərd-ˌship How to pronounce stewardship (audio)
: the office and duties of a steward
: the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one's care
stewardship of our natural resources

More from Merriam-Webster on stewardship

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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